Compost & Recycling in New Orleans Guide

 Compost Drop Off New Orleans

Helpful info about composting, recycling, and plastic pollution for New Orleanians and anyone, anywhere!

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GLASS RECYCLING IN NEW ORLEANS

Glass is INFINITELY RECYCLABLE! It can always be remade over & over into more glass. But, it's HEAVY to ship. That's why so many manufacturers switched to plastic to begin with: it was cheaper, lighter, more durable ... even though plastic leaches toxic chemicals and it never goes away, only breaking down into polluting micro plastics.

We now know that food items packaged in glass are better for your health + avoiding plastic pollution, but where to recycle glass in New Orleans when you have more jars and bottles than you can possibly reuse?

Because glass is so heavy, and because there are no glass/ bottle factories near us in the South, there isn't proper glass recycling here. But, Glass Half Full, below accepts glass that is then ground down into sand and used for coastal restoration. 


Option 1: Glass is NOT accepted for curbside recycling through the City of New Orleans. But you can drop it off at the City of New Orleans Recycling Center Drop Off at 2829 Elysian Fields on Saturdays, 8am - 1:00pm.

Limit: 50lbs. Be prepared to wait in line, have the drop off be randomly closed, or have this info change unexpectedly, as the city does whatever they want whenever they want, without notice or explanation. This is the most current info on the city's website at the time of this posting.

Glass Recycling in New Orleans at Glass Half Full

Option 2:  Glass Half Full offers free glass recycling in New Orleans at its drop off location every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, at 3935 Louisa Street. They also offer a curbside pickup service from your house, starting at $25 a month.

As of this post, their schedule is Mon/ Wed from 9-5:30 and Saturdays from 9-4.

Option 3: Drop off glass at Tulane's Newcomb Art Department for use in glass blowing /art classes. They sometimes accept both clear and green glass, but also may put the program on pause due to overwhelming amounts, so call before you go: 504-865-5327.

Other former glass drop off centers now closed and no longer accepting glass are

Target Glass Recycling / Clearview
Whole Foods Glass Recycling

If you're not in NOLA, your city may have glass collection or there may be other glass-recycling focused specific groups like those listed above.

Plastic Pollution & Recycling Problems 

Most folks are (thankfully) becoming aware that our worldwide systems for handling recycling of plastics are broken... with estimates finding that only 6.5-9% of all plastic ever made has been recycled.

And that's if it's clean, in the right bin, right type of plastic, and actually picked up and taken to the sorting facility.

U.S plastic recycling rate slumps to 6%

Here at the shop, we believe the solution to this is to reduce, reuse, and REFILL our bottles, before ever relying on plastic recycling for more single-use bottles.

There are several reasons why plastics recycling is ineffective and you should REFILL instead:

  1. as a society we produce way too much new plastic for recycling to keep up
  2. there's not enough demand for things to be made out of recycled plastic & it's more expensive to do
  3. you can only recycle plastic 2 or 3 times before it degrades, and 
  4. corporations have greenwashed and lied to the public, persuading us that many of these plastics were recyclable when they never actually were

For more info on how we were misled and why plastics recycling is so broken, see this list of excellent resources below:

    PLASTIC RECYCLING OPTIONS

    Here in NOLA, only plastics #1 or #2 are 'recyclable.' If there's no number, it's NOT recyclable. If it is any number other than 1 or 2, it is NOT recyclable.

    Option 1: Curbside recycling pickup in New Orleans in Area 1. As of the time of this publication it has not resumed in Area 2, only Area 1. For area maps, see the City of New Orleans recycling page. Also posted there, the New Orleans recycling schedule if you are located in Area 1. 

    If you need a recycling bin, call 311. Be prepared for it to take a long time or not show up at all and keep calling. 

    Important note: Do not put recycling into plastic bags inside your bin. Leave it loose. Recycling is HAND SORTED here so if it's in a bag or gross, they will not open or touch it.

    Sorted, clean recycling in New Orleans


    If you're in Area 2 and you've been filling up your recycling bin and putting it out, it's being emptied into the garbage trucks, as of the date of this posting and the most current info available on the city's website.

    Option 2: Drop off recyclables at the City of New Orleans Recycling Drop Off Center located at 2829 Elysian Fields Avenue on Saturdays from 8am to 1pm. Be prepared to wait in line. For a complete list of items accepted at the recycling drop off center, see the link.

    For non recyclable plastics #3-#7: the best advice is to stop buying it as much as possible. Replace single use plastics with reusables for items like straws, cutlery, takeout containers and plastic bags.

    In addition, there are other limited options: 

      1. In store drop off here at Vintage Green Review. Currently I have a Terracycle program sponsored by Tom's of Maine that will accept any brand of plastic toothbrush, toothpaste tube, mouthwash bottle, floss box or deodorant container.
        Vintage Green Review 3530 Magazine Street New Orleans


      2. Black plastic plant & seed trays: bring back to your local garden store for reuse or post in a local gardening group on Facebook or other buy-nothing free Facebook groups if you belong to one. For a while, Lowe's locations were accepting them in their garden centers as well. 

      3. Free Terracycle programs for individual households. Free Recycling Programs from Terracycle allow you to recycle a number of hard-to-recycle plastic containers, pouches and bags. These are sponsored by various brands and free to the public, though there may be a waitlist.

      4. Paid Zero Waste Boxes from Terracycle for individual householdsYou can order zero waste boxes from Terracycle for a variety of recycling types such as cosmetics, just #5 plastics, school supplies & office materials, e-waste and more. Or a larger catch-all box that's more expensive to hold everything. 
        Terracycle Zero Waste Boxes
        This is what we use at our house for any #5 or soft food packaging we have like tofu wrappers. It is not cheap but one box will take us a few months to fill so we try to think of it as 0.50- $1.00 per day rather than dwell on the total amount. 

        I hope to add some of these zero waste boxes to the shop later in the year, but working up to being able to cover the cost.

      5. Ridwell national household subscription pickup for hard to recycle items including nonplastic stuff like batteries. Ridwell gives you reusable bags and a container to collect and store things like batteries, lightbulbs, plastic film and more. They collect every two weeks from your doorstep.

        Here's the catch: 

        Ridwell will only come to a neighborhood or city when enough people have indicated demand by signing up on their waitlist. They just added neighborhoods in Austin, so they're not that far from New Orleans.
        Ridwell Curbside Plastic Recycling Program


        Sign up for their waitlist to encourage Ridwell to come to New Orleans, or wherever you live! Go to their website, click on the green button "Get Started" enter your info, and if they're not in your area yet, you will automatically be added to the waitlist.

      6. Unconfirmed rumor about a northshore recycling center that takes #5 plastic. I received this info from a customer who lives in Mandeville:

        "I think that they are trying not to advertise the fact that they take recycling because I can't find it on the internet. However, I believe the name on the sign is Stranco and I can tell you exactly where it is.

        If you google 68674 LA Hwy 59 that is United Rental which is the business just past the recycle place. 

        The street before Stranco is North Lane.  There is a fire station on that corner.  After you pass the fire station and North Lane the recycling is the next driveway on the right.  Once you go through gate you will see the recycle bin on your left in the middle of the lot"

        I haven't had the chance to confirm this info, but if you've been there and it's true, please let me know!

      7. Also, potentially Phoenix Recycling: paid, private service. See below.
      8. For bubble wrap, bubble mailers, and air filled bags: try posting for free on buy nothing or Facebook classifieds page, as small business owners and artists may be able to use upcycled materials for shipping. You can also check with local boutiques, furniture stores, and places that ship breakable items to see if they'll take it.

    If you DON'T live in New Orleans, check your city's sanitation website for guide lines. Nationwide, really only #1 and #2 plastics are functionally, easily recyclable, though some cities do accept #5.

    Warning: Some grocery & hardware stores have advertised plastic bag drop offs in the past- I would not trust this. I have heard from numerous people who have witnessed these boxes being dumped straight into a dumpster. I also witnessed employees at the car dealer dumping their Terracycle box for Keurig cups in the dumpster, so beware.

    Best thing to do is just NOT use plastic in the first place whenever you can possibly help it. Bring your own reusable bags when you shop-- not just the grocery store but everywhere! 

    METAL RECYCLING IN NEW ORLEANS

    Metal also has excellent recycle rates, especially aluminum and steel so you should not dismiss the efficacy of diverting these materials from the landfill!

    Option 1: Curbside recycling in Area 1 of New Orleans. You can put steel & aluminum cans in your curbside recycling. NO other metals, no hangers, no bed frames, no nails, no razor blades, no weird sh*t.

          Accepted: 
     soup/bean/fruit cans, soda cans, beer cans, condiment cans.

          Don't bother with aluminum foil, it's a different alloy than aluminum cans      
          and they would have to collect a whole bale full of it separately to recycle, so
          they usually throw it out at the sorting facility. Plus, it's rarely clean enough.

    Option 2: City of New Orleans Recycling Center Drop Off at 2829 Elysian Fields on Saturdays, 8am - 1:00pm. Same as above.

    Option 3: You can also bring your metals to scrap metal recyclers:

    New Orleans EMR Mid City (Southern Recycling) Scrap Metal at 2525 Lafitte Ave.: Accepts only aluminum and steel cans like those mentioned above
    Uptown Recycling at 1320 S. Claiborne Ave: takes any metal. As quoted when I called: "If it's made of metal, bring it." I've brought old wire, random candle tins, perfume, spray cans, damaged pots and pans, foil, twisted ties, etc and they were all accepted at the times I've gone. If you're new to visiting this place though, I'd suggest bringing a friend along.

    Or, leave your metal cans easily accessible in boxes or bags on your curb for scrappers to pick up. But don't litter and take them back inside if no one snags them. Don't put out on your garbage day so they're not thrown in the garbage truck.

    CARDBOARD & PAPER RECYCLING IN NEW ORLEANS

    Option 1: Curbside recycling in Area 1 of New Orleans. Items accepted are newspaper, junk mail, office paper, phone books, cardboard, boxes like from cereal, pasta, or soda/ beer box 12 packs.

    NO cardboard containers with food or a "waxy" coating on them-- i.e. takeout containers or pizza boxes. There can be NO grease on the cardboard.

    NO milk cartons, broth or juice cartons-- i.e. no Tetrapak boxes. These are not paper + wax-- they are several layers of plastic coating over paper.

    Option 2: City of New Orleans Recycling Center Drop Off at 2829 Elysian Fields on Saturdays, 8am - 1:00pm. Same as above. You can also bring shredded paper in a CLEAR bag.

    Option 3: Compost as much brown paper and cardboard as you can at home. Brown paper napkins & towels, soft brown compostable clamshell takeout containers, plain cardboard & paper. Brown paper from packages, toilet paper roll tubes, etc. 

    If you do a compost drop-off service, check with them to see if they will accept these items in your compost. Some don't because they may be feeding food scraps to farm animals. 

    Some local farms and larger compost sites may also accept cardboard for use.

    Option 4: Newspaper: animal shelters will often accepted donated newspaper for lining in crates and litter boxes. Likewise, thrift stores like Bridge House and Red, White and Blue may take newspaper too. (Last time I was there, Bridge House also accepted plastic bags.)

    E-WASTE, INK CARTRIDGE, BATTERY RECYCLING, LIGHTBULB, APPLIANCE RECYCLING

    Option 1: Best Buy Drop Off Locations, including Best Buy on Clearview in Metairie, or Best Buy on the Westbank Pretty much every type of small electronic device is accepted for recycling at Best Buy locations. Most of them are accepted free of charge, up to 3 per day. However, some very specific items require a small fee. See the full list at www.bestbuy.com/recycling.

    They also appear to allow you to schedule home pick up of appliances for recycling. View more information at the link above. 

    You can try to call the specific location but it will transfer you to a national number that redirects you to the website above, so the best bet is to just go to a location near you to inquire/ bring in person.

    Option 2: Apple Trade In for Apple devices. 

    From Apple's website: "Apple Trade In lets you recycle any Apple device (including devices from Apple-owned brands) at any Apple Store and on apple.com for free. That includes your batteries and old electronic products. When Apple receive your device, it will be thoroughly inspected to determine if components can be recycled or reused. Whether recycled or reused, all activities relating to the processing of your device will be managed in an environmentally responsible way."

    Option 3: City of New Orleans Recycling Center Drop Off at 2829 Elysian Fields on Saturdays, 8am - 1:00pm. 

    Items accepted: 

    • E-Waste (computers, laptops, telephones/telephone systems, keyboards, speakers, telephone/computer cables, x-boxes, PlayStation, Wii, MP3/DVD/CD players, UPS, Circuit boards, Portable Navigation/GPS devices, ink jet/toner cartridges, digital cameras/video recorders (DVRs), fax machines, small printers, monitors, processors, networking equipment, stereos, security systems)
    • Batteries (AA, AAA, AAAA, C, D, 6 & 9 volt, Lithium); Light bulbs (Incandescent and fluorescent)
    • Televisions (Limit 4)

    Option 4: Lowe's. This seems to change on a regular basis so the best thing is to confirm the next time you go there. In the past they have accepted batteries and lightbulbs.

    Option 5: Select Terracycle boxes, as noted above.

    Option 6: Ink cartridge brand-specific recycling. Most companies like Canon or HP have recycling options through their website. It used to be that Fedex Kinkos locations would accept them but the ones I called, this seems to longer be true.

    HOUSEHOLD HAZARDOUS WASTE & CHEMICALS

    Paint Recycling at The Green Project. The Green Project accepts paint for recycling & resale. For more information on what is accepted and how it works, see their Paint Recycling Guide.

    Other fertilizers, insecticides, cleaning supplies and miscellaneous chemicals are only accepted through the City of New Orleans Recycling Center Drop Off ONCE PER YEAR.

    Household Hazardous Waste Day was May 14, 2022, though don't be surprised if this was not widely advertised.
    If you aren't watching for it, you will miss it.  It's usually in the spring, and was rescheduled a few times with COVID. Be prepared to wait in a very long line for this, and watch for updates on the city's website for the next date, under "Special Recycling Dates"

    We try not to use anything toxic period but the rare things we have we keep in a leak-proof container outside under our house (we don't have a shed or garage) until the day comes along.

    PHOENIX RECYCLING FOR BUSINESSES & NONPROFITS

    You can also pay for recycling services through Phoenix Recycling, a private company. As of the end of January 2022, they were working with 96 gallon cans and 2-yard dumpsters. 

    At the time I spoke with them, they were accepting all plastics 1-7, cardboard, aluminum and tin.

    For more info, email phoenix.nola.recycling@gmail.com

    A NOTE ABOUT ILLEGAL DUMPING

    I had the opportunity to speak with District B Councilwoman Harris's assistant recently and he indicated that the city expects to clear the 2021 backlog of reported illegal dumping by July, and will then begin work on the 2022 illegal dumping reports. 

    If you see illegal dumping, call 311 to report it and hopefully it will be added to the list for removal.


    COMPOST SERVICES & GROUPS IN NEW ORLEANS

    Option 1: The best thing you can do is to compost at home if you have the space and ability to do so, because you can add in other compostable items like paper, bamboo cotton swabs, cardboard, compostable sponges & wood brushes, yard waste etc. 

    Option 2: If you do not have the ability to do an outdoor compost, you can look into counter-top composers such as Lomi, though they are not cheap. 

    Option 3: If neither of the above are feasible, there are several excellent compost groups in the area that offer drop off and collection services. Visit their websites to see how each one works, what is collected, and when/how. Some offer home pick up and others don't.

    Some may be able to take compostable non-food items but be sure to check first! You don't want any farm animals to accidentally swallow the remnants of a bamboo toothbrush.

    Compost Now
    OG Compost
    Schmelly's Dirt Farm
    The Composting Network

    Also possibly other small local farms.

    TEXTILES, FABRICS, CLOTHING

    Option 1: ricRACK in New Orleans is a textile recycling nonprofit that accepts fabric and sewing materials/ notions donations, clothing donations (inquire to see what's accepted), and offers adult & kids sewing lessons and other programming.

    Option 2: Used jeans in any condition are accepted at Madewell in Lakeside Mall

    Option 3: Used t-shirts are accepted by Marine Layer on Magazine Street. They also accept Mardi Gras krewe costumes for collection to give to Epiphany Throws to be upcycled into Mardi Gras throws.

    Option 4: Bedding, sheets, towels are accepted for use by most animal shelters. However, they may not accept comforters/ items with stuffing that could be chewed open and swallowed.

    Option 5: Nike Factory outlet used to accept athletic shoes for recycling in any condition but stopped with Covid. They may resume at some point so keep checking back. 

    Option 5: Terracycle boxes as mentioned above

    Option 7: H&M was taking clothing in any condition, but current status and reliability unknown.

    Option 8: Donations. For usable/ wearable items with life left in them consider the following options BEFORE donating to a thrift store: 

    • Host a clothing swap with friends
    • Post on Facebook's Tulane classifieds or other buy-nothing group
    • Reach out to your local school or church group to see if they have any initiatives in place

    Remember that thrift stores like Goodwill did not begin with an environmentally focused mission. What they cannot sell might get shipped overseas or thrown in a dumpster. Make sure that donated items are in good condition free from stains and major damage.

    For clothes in good condition and on trend, you can also always try consignment stores like Swap Boutique, or selling at Buffalo Exchange before donating.

    Option 9: thredUp. For gently used items that can be sold, you can send them in to thredUp. What they cannot sell is either donated or responsibly sent to textile recycling.



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